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Slashback: New E3, Archimedes Webcast, Dell Wildfires 199

Slashback tonight brings some clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories including: a victory for evolution in Kansas, the Stardust Program launched, Lego Mindstorms goes live, continued backlash on the new E3, Archimedes gets a webcast, another Dell bursts into flame, and a possible RIAA silver bullet Read on for details.

A Victory for Evolution in Kansas. SatanicPuppy writes "Yesterday, elections in Kansas saw four of six pro-Creationism school board members replaced by pro-Evolution candidates in a one issue election. Interestingly, it didn't go by party lines; at least one of the conservative Republicans who supported Creationism failed to make it past their party primary. Ken Willard and John Bacon are the two remaining pro-Creationism incumbents."

Stardust Program Launched. lee1 writes "Anyone with an internet connection now has the the chance to find microscopic grains of dust from beyond the solar system. The project, called Stardust@home, is patterned on projects like SETI@home. But rather than exploiting idle processor time, it will ask volunteers to search through millions of microscope images on their computer screens, exploiting spare time in general as well as ego: 'People get very competitive,' explains the project director. The first volunteer to spot an actual interstellar dust grain will get to name it and will be listed as a co-author on any resulting research papers. The images come from a NASA project called Stardust, whose primary mission was to collect samples of dust from the tail of Comet Wild 2, but might also have captured some interstellar dust that could reveal the physics of the stars that produced it. To minimize false positives and to ensure that all the grains are found, each participant will go through an online training and testing process before starting their search. They will be scored on how well they distinguish real dust grain impacts from fakes."

Lego Mindstorms goes live. MicroBerto writes "As of August 1, 2006, the next generation of Lego Mindstorms is now available for sale in North America. Mindstorms NXT is a robotics toolset that allows you to build and program robots for various purposes. It combines the power of the Lego technic building system and an all new intuitive software environment powered by National Instruments LabVIEW."

Continued backlash on the new E3. Anonymous Howard writes "Angry Gamer reacts badly to the news of the Electronic Entertainment Expo's demise. They see it as a major blow for small game developers who are having enough of a hard time getting noticed by press and retailers as it is. From the article: 'This is a win only for the EAs, Sonys and IGNs of the world. Everyone else has to fend for themselves.' It seems like the days of smaller developers getting noticed by 'drive by traffic' at E3 are over." Relatedly The Escapist Lounge has an interview with the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences president, Joseph Olin, on what is actually happening to E3. As Joseph Olin responds: 'So it's going to take a couple of months until the world knows what the scope of E3 2007 will be, and how it will be structured. The opportunity to make material changes to improve it shouldn't be snap judgments. The rhetorical question I might pose is: "You know you have a problem. You know you need to make changes. How do you make changes and convey it and announce it, and to whom, and when?" There's never a good time. Whenever you make significant change, there's no way to introduce that change without detractors. The challenge is that without being able to announce the exact implementation of change it leaves that gray area for ignorance to fill the void.'"

Archimedes gets a webcast. jd writes "Some time ago, Slashdot covered the story of the rediscovery of several lost writings of Archimedes by means of X-Ray fluorescence. Well, they're still scanning the book and at 11pm GMT (4pm PDT) on August 4th will be putting on a live webcast as they scan and interpret pages not seen by human eyes for over a thousand years."

Another Dell bursts into flame. starwindsurfer writes "A Dell laptop's battery caught on fire in a company's IT department this week, burning a hole right through the casing. Nearby techs used fire extinguishers to put out the blaze. Employee Henrik took pictures to document the affair and uploaded them to the Toms Hardware message boards. From the writeup: 'The police department showed up. The entire lower floor was allowed to leave early and as we stood there in front of the building we simply couldn't resist... we jokingly called the engineer a terrorist as he was being asked a few questions by the friendly officer.'"

An RIAA silver bullet? Chris Fairman writes "TechDirt is running a story about how the RIAA seems to be dropping cases where the defense includes (or hinges on) an IP address as the means to identify the source of criminal activity. Essentially the defense argues that all an IP address can prove is who was paying for the net access at a particular time. Having a wide open WiFi router on your network seems to be currently the most effective means of getting the RIAA to drop all charges. Essentially the activity originating from one IP, only proves that illegal file sharing behavior is coming from one network, and not necessarily from any one specific computer or user. More importantly, it seems that the legal system is beginning to catch on to more complex technology concepts. Such concepts play a large part in how future legal cases are argued, and contribute ultimately to the foundation of complex technology legal precedents."

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Slashback: New E3, Archimedes Webcast, Dell Wildfires

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  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @08:25PM (#15836277) Homepage Journal
    Its even more common then most, since most every laptop ( and many desktops ) come with wifi built in.

    At least the courts are starting to come to their senses ( I hope ). But how does one prove you had open wifi during the time they think you did something wrong? I know personally i have mine wide open for my neighbors, but that still doesnt PROVE it.... ( i sit here now with my macmini with internet sharing going on the airport )
  • Re:RIAA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @08:46PM (#15836355)
    IANAL but I have followed the legal battles of the RIAA pretty closely the last six years. I was under the distinct impression that having an open WIFI was NO defense at all. I can't remember the exact legal document but years ago when this defense was concocted on /. everyone linked to some Ashcroft document that clearly stated that whoever pays for the internet connection is ultimately responsible for anything and everything that goes on with that connection. That is to say that leaving your WIFI connection wide open is something wreckless that you did and you should still be held accountable. This is much like if you had someone in your car and you were pulled over and the person in your car had a loaded handgun and a pound of cocaine. The cops wouldn't necessarily cart your ass to jail BUT you would get yelled at about how it was your car, everything in that car is technically your responsibility and if you were itching for arrest they probably could arrest you on that basis. Same thing with P2P over unsecure connections.
    If the Feds come kicking in your door because they have found that hundreds of child porn (I know it's an extreme example) videos have been uploaded at that IP and your defense is that "well I don't know, it could be anybody really, I never set up my router" I think that you would be in some serious trouble. In that case you could hope to get off because it is criminal and reasonable doubt is your friend. With P2P it is entirely a CIVIL matter and thus rather then having reasonable doubt as your friend you have the high probability of guilt damning you at your court hearing.
    However, things may have changed. Perhaps the issue has become so wide-spread and there is so much anger against the RIAA that the attitudes of those serving on Civil trial juries are hostile to the intentions of the RIAA. If they have decided that is the case then it is in their best interests to avoid any case where more then an IP address would be required before qualifying for your high probability of guilt. Nothing about the article /.'d says anything convincing one way or the other about it though.
  • PAX (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alizarin Erythrosin ( 457981 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:12PM (#15836474)
    'This is a win only for the EAs, Sonys and IGNs of the world. Everyone else has to fend for themselves.' It seems like the days of smaller developers getting noticed by 'drive by traffic' at E3 are over.

    I guess there's always the Penny Arcade Expo...
  • Root of All Evil? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rolman ( 120909 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:28PM (#15836543)
    Last year, Richard Dawkins [], of The Selfish Gene fame, made a documentary about religion called "Root of All Evil?" [], where he defines faith as "the process of non-thinking" that can lead to even the worst human condition, like murderous thinking when the fundamentalism make people hate and kill each other. Just like what's happening in Israel right now.

    One of the most interesting things about it is that he tries to talk with several religious leaders about evolution, and they sistematically avoid any rational discussion and undeniable evidence with the same stupid arguments, equivalent to "my book says this and therefore, it must be true".

    He brings forth the question "why can't schools just teach science in SCIENCE class?"

    Quite controversial, I recommend it very much.
  • by magetoo ( 875982 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:48PM (#15837189)
    God could not use evolution, because if it was guided, it wasn't evolution.
    That's not quite right. You might very well have had some form of directed evolution. (The Christian god/some other god/the aliens/FSM altered/is altering genes gradually towards some goal, and here we are.)

    And related to this, Darwin did not come up with the idea of evolution, that would already have been known. What he proposed was natural selection; the method that pushed evolution seemingly "forward".

    But you're probably from the US, and they don't teach this kind of stuff there, right? ;-)

  • by c_forq ( 924234 ) <> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:55PM (#15837228)
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." C.S. Lewis would disagree with you.
  • by Panaflex ( 13191 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ognidlaivivnoc}> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:17AM (#15837319)
    And you appear to not have studied much religion - at least Genesis. The source material for much of Genesis goes back much further than the Bible and the Torah. Look up the Epic of Gilgamesh for instance.

    Regardless - it is not so much of real interest that things were created in a certain order. Certainly our view of the Earth has radically changed in 2,000 years and will continue to change I am sure, as an example.

    Classical studies often find that a timeline and factual accounts are far from reality - but are meant to convey the outcome, meaning, or possibly the causation (tropological study). The particular order and logic is mostly allegorical evidence and relation to the reader. As an aside - this is the point at which scientist balk much so.
  • Two Points (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:29AM (#15837370)
    1) There's such a thing as "civil seizure" and there are also ways they can do "surprise discovery" via Federal Marshals in an ex parte process if a judge is willing to sign off on that. So far, I think it's usually the BSA, not the RIAA, that employs those tactics.

    2) Their sources of IPs are, at best, "electronic hearsay" -- that is, in many cases, they have *NO* way to prove that:
    * They weren't lied to by some random computer on the internet.
    * They know who was actually sharing some file.

    The first of those two points is particularly poigniant. It would be quite easy to frame someone if you put your mind to it. Especially when they're getting their data on who is sharing what from random file sharing computers on the internet. It's also quite easy to fake their reports by changing a few IPs, so you could just as easily generate a report saying that, say, was really the one pirating that. While part of this can, SFAIK, be solved by an affadavit saying that "I personally ran this program to find pirates and I swear that it really did give me this report of this IP as being one of the sharers." if you subpoena all the information on the programming of the computer they got this information from, you might very well uncover a fatal flaw in their evidence gathering process.

    Of course, IANAL, this is not legal advice, and you should have a lawyer and an expert review the evidence against you. Hopefully, they'll be able to point out the flaws and scare away their goons. Honestly, though, I'm guessing that they're dropping the cases based on which lawyers seem to understand technology, because they don't want any long or expensive legal fights... after all, what if they weren't able to recoup attourney's fees, and ended up losing money prosecuting the case?

    As for boycotts, I'm boycotting Sony still, and there are a host of reasons for that. In fact, it makes me smile every time I see a mention of Sony on something I've pirated :D And even if they trace this, all they'll find is a wide open wireless system. Who am I? I'm Anonymous Coward, that's who :P

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"